Tag Archive: film review


one of my oldest memories is krullsettling down on a sunday afternoon to watch a piece of tacky 80s sci-fi or fantasy. films like Tron, The Dark Crystal and Willow are all films that i have faint memories of sitting down to watch between the ages of 5 and 10, only for them to disappear from my consciousness until years later when some rattle at the back of my head made me pick them up again. Krull was always one of the most mysterious of these films, for the simple fact that i’d try and describe it to people, “it’s got a big castle and they shoot lasers and ride around on horses!” only to get blank looks back, people obviously doubting the memory of a five year old viewer. i managed to tear the knowledge from someone on a long forgotten message board a few years back, leading me to finally get hold of the DVD and watch it again. this afternoon, i decided to relive those sunday afternoons of old and curled up in a chair to watch it.

krull actors

David Battley (left), Freddie Jones (second left), Liam Neeson (third left) and Alun Armstrong (right)

now this is probably the point at which (if you hadn’t read the title of this post, anyway) you might expect me to confess its utter rubbishness, ‘best left as a fond memory!’ i hear you cry. well actually no! because while i can watch it now with a far more critical eye, it hasn’t actually lost any of that magic which made me think about it year on year through the 90s. looking at the cast list now, it reads like a who’s who of british actors, yet in 1983, this was a breakthrough role for many of them. Liam Neeson and Robbie Coltrane have probably gone on to have the most successful careers, but Alun Armstrong (New Tricks), Todd Carty (Eastenders), Freddie Jones (Emmerdale) and the gorgeous Lysette Anthony (Corrie, Hollyoaks and others) all star, along with David Battley, bassist in Eric Idle’s comedy band The Rutles. for the proper geeks like me, we even spot Ken Marshall in the lead role, who later went on to star as Commander Eddington in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

as has been noted in countless reviews of the film, a cross between The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, we see the heroes embark on their epic quest to rescue the captured princess, battling against cyborgs and clones, while encountering giant spiders and seers. there’s something quite quaint about the basic special effects, though the faceless slayers provide an element of horror, with their inhuman wails upon dying remaining as clear in my memory as the day i first sat down to watch the film on that rainy sunday afternoon. krull filmupon reaching the lair of the The Beast, the heroes start dropping like flies, with most of them meeting a grizzly end at the hands of slayers. this fantastic (meant in the literal sense) yet slightly naff world, coupled with the appearances of many a future soap star, is why it remains such a favourite of my youth though. there’s something quintessentially British about the film that makes it charming even now, and while it doesn’t really stand up to its yank counterparts of the time (Star Wars, Blade Runner, E.T., Star Trek II, Dune were all american contemporaries), it’s one of those films i can’t help loving. having snored through a viewing of Blade Runner the other day in yet another attempt to see what the fuss is about recently, there’s no doubt which one i’d rather be watching. sure, it’s technically inferior in almost every way, but that’s not necessarily what i want from a film every time. Krull is funny, it’s exciting, it doesn’t take itself seriously, and it contains just the right amount of british silliness to make it a classic in my eyes. i might be alone in that, but meh, i’ve never been a trend setter.

Back to the Future marathon

so i had a spare afternoon, with Back to the Futuremy study done for the day, and what i really needed was a heavy dose of 80s sci-fi. wasn’t feeling in the mood for anything too deep and the trilogy box-set has been staring at me from the shelf for ages. the lure of a six hour geek fest was too good to turn down, so i settled in for the afternoon and made myself comfortable. it’s easy to forget quite how good these films are until you watch them again. they’re like lots of those 80s sci-fi franchises, like robocop, terminator etc that form a big part of my early years, yet i never seem to go back to them enough. anyhow, it was time to go back, back to the future! or do i mean back to the past? whatever.

the first film in the trio is, in my opinion, the best of the lot. structurally, it’s just so perfect, with the classic ideas of the dysfunctional family, the mad scientist, libyan terrorists, marty’s mission to make his parents fall in love coupled with his ultimate goal of returning home, culminating in the epic lightning storm at the climax. not only is the story perfectly planned out, but it’s shot beautifully and the cast absolutely nails both the comedic and dramatic elements of the script. the rapport michael j fox and christopher lloyd enjoy shows that the late decision to replace eric stoltz with fox after 5 weeks of shooting, really was the right decision.

delorean time machine

the coolest time machine ever?

although, in my opinion, part one is the perfect film, part two is where it starts to get really clever and interesting for the geeks. the way the separate timelines interact with each other in part two is simply genius. as we see events from the first film unfolding in the background of the second film, we get that hint of realisation in our mind that turns us into active instead of passive consumers of the film. while part one delivers us a ready made classic, part two gives us something a little bit more challenging, that we have to work at a little ourselves to really get complete audience satisfaction. what’s also great about this film is we get the classic ‘what the 80s think the future is going to look like’ thing. generally, it’s done really well, and even the slightly naff bits are done with that bit of 80s coolness which you’re just about able to get away with nowadays, the power nike boots for example.

doc's new time machine

though this one runs it close...

moving onto the final film, the one many people consider the weakest, i was really hoping it wasn’t going to disappoint like some of my friends had suggested. luckily, it did no such thing, and the change of setting to the wild west is a welcome one that enables them to film a great cowboy romp, with lovely little touches like the confrontation between marty and buford tannen reminiscent of a classic spaghetti western. i actually enjoy part three more than part two, as it follows the structure of the first film a lot more closely. yet again, lloyd and fox utterly excel in their roles, with the comic moments providing some of the biggest laughs i’ve had in ages. i think what i find so charming about the whole trilogy is the way they are interwoven so closely with each other. whether that’s through the interlocking timelines, or simple cinematic details such as the spinning numberplate after each of the delorean’s first and last trips through time. tiny things like that, coupled with the amazing storyline, add up to make it such a beautifully constructed trilogy, combining just the right amounts of excitement, comedy and every now and then, tragedy too.

this post isn’t really intended as a review, though i could probably proselytise for a lot longer than i have already on the films. for a really great article that goes into much greater depth on the films, i recommend visiting this piece… 52 Reasons Why BACK TO THE FUTURE Might Just be the Greatest Film of all Time i guess i just wanted to let you lot know how great i think this film is. it forms a pretty big part of my early childhood sci-fi memories, and it feels so good to be able to go back to something like that and think, ‘wow, this is actually even better than i remember it’. totally high on life after this particular six hour marathon.